Recovery fund saving jobs

·2 min read

At a time when many local businesses and non-profits are struggling, the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) has helped many keep employees.

Part of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, the RRRF provides loans to small- and medium-sized businesses impacted by the pandemic. These loans are intended to help businesses not eligible for other federal business supports cover ongoing costs and resume normal business operations.

Across multiple streams of the program, rural businesses in Western Canada access RRRF funding through Community Futures, a non-profit business loan and development organization. Strathmore and Wheatland County are part of the Community Futures Wild Rose (CFWR) region, which also includes Chestermere and Rocky View County, among other local municipalities.

Since May 2020, 57 loans have been approved, totalling $1.8 million in the CFWR region, according to the organization. These loans have helped rural businesses in the region maintain 165 jobs.

Across the region, Strathmore businesses have received the highest amount of loans cumulatively, followed by those in Three Hills. Between April 1 and Dec. 31, the three sectors receiving the greatest number of loans were professional services (13), retail (11), and accommodations and food services (8).

As tourism is one of the most impacted sectors in Alberta and the region, CFWR aims to allocate a minimum of 25 per cent of RRRF funds to support tourism. Between April 1 and Dec. 31, 32 per cent of these loans in the region targeted businesses in the tourism sector.

CFWR continues to offer $40,000 business loans through the RRRF, which are zero-interest (through to Dec. 31, 2022) and partially forgivable (if 75 per cent of loan is repaid by Dec. 31, 2022). This is possible because of additional funding, part of an initial $18.9 million allocated to the Community Futures Network of Alberta. Loans must be repaid by Dec. 31, 2025.

Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times